The Patriot in Purgatory
The episode opens with five of Brennan's interns -- Bray, Edison, Vaziri, Abernathy, and Fisher -- gathered around a corpse with a chainsaw in its chest. Saroyan tells them to await Brennan's orders. Immediately they become suspicious, and Abernathy starts a differential on the chainsaw victim -- he was ripped through the xiphoid process, fluid on the 4th and 5th left ribs. Fabric is found in the cut that transected the xiphoid process, and Edison thinks it may have been a tennis ball. The interns are fighting when Brennan shows up, only to reveal that they're not working that case; that man died after attempting to juggle a chainsaw, a Fuji apple, and a tennis ball... while drunk.
Brennan has taken a page from the Phil Jackson playbook (after Booth made her watch basketball) and decided to set the intern team on the task of identifying cold cases now that the missing persons database has been thoroughly digitized. Brennan leaves, and the interns immediately start firing on all cylinders, rattling off identifications and cutting into one another's explanations of who the dead person is on the table.
Fisher identifies Lisa Bowrey, a mechanical bull-riding stripper who went missing in 1980, based on the size of the humeral head, the intra-articular fracture to the thumb, abrasions on L2 and L3, and the presence of sequins among her personal effects. Abernathy discovers he is looking at the remains of George Leto, a blacksmith who went missing in 1898. Erratic ossification on his pubic symphysis puts him in his mid-50s, and he also had a woodcutter's lesion (also known as an olecranon spur). Clark has Chad Winnike, a suspected murder victim who disappeared 18 years ago. He identified the remains based on lateral epicondylitis of the elbow joint (aka tennis elbow) and high strontium. And Bray finds Sarah Mahoney based on a compression fracture of the C7 body with subluxation, or milker's neck.
|Doo doo doo... where do the fibulae go again?|
Vaziri, however, does not have easy answers to his case, a homeless man found beaten in a sleeping bag behind a parking garage at the Pentagon in September, 2001. Other than a chipped tooth and a fracture to the left 6th rib, Vaziri has little to go on. He convinces Hodgins to test the residue in the tooth, however, which reveals traces of kerosene and ethylene glycol, or jet fuel. On the skeletal remains, Vaziri finds an old, healed bullet wound that occurred roughly 10 years before the man's death. Based on the state of the remains, the temperature at the time, and the Calliphoridae (blow flies) in the decomposing tissue, Hodgins and Saroyan put time of death at 4 days before the body was discovered. The interns are all interested at this point, and Fisher, an expert on bone remodelling, is asked to take a look at the rib fracture. He puts the injury at about 10 days before death, or on September 11, 2001. Because of the presence of jet fuel and the man's injuries, the team thinks that he was in or near the Pentagon when it was struck by one of the planes.
The bullet wound, Booth thinks, could indicate the man fought in the Gulf War, and this would match with the high level of uranium found in his body. There was no DNA database for servicemen in the 1990s, though, so a DNA test of the body does not find an identity match.
The interns further examine the body and find all sorts of abrasions and small microfractures to the bones -- the ends of the humeri, the L4 and L5, the knees, the right metacarpals -- all suggestive of a violent death in which the individual was dragged or hung upside down.
After a day of going to homeless shelters with a facial reconstruction provided by Angela, Booth gets an ID: Tim Murphy. Murphy did indeed serve in the Gulf, where he was the sole survivor in an explosion in a munitions dump. He suffered from severe PTSD, and his wife would often find him missing for days at a time. One day, he simply didn't come home.
Hodgins tests the fragment of metal from the rib and finds that it's made of indium tin oxide, which was used on the lamp posts on the west side of the Pentagon. A military big-wig, Ben Foster (Officer Doug!), asks around about Murphy and finds out that he used to hang out outside the Pentagon shouting "Walk in Moore Park" to everyone who passed. Booth realizes that this wasn't a sentence but rather the names of Murphy's fellow soldiers who were killed in the Gulf: Walken, Moore, and Park.
The interns examine the skeletal evidence again, noting that the injuries to the bone look strikingly like those seen in weightlifters. Murphy, though, had no history of that. They decide to test his personal effects, namely the blood on his clothing. They find that the blood came from three different people who were working at the Pentagon on September 11. Booth interviews Rollins, and she remembers Murphy -- he saved her life by lifting heavy pieces of concrete off her, and he saved the lives of the two men as well. The damage to his shoulders, the compression fractures to his spine, the strain on his knees, all of these injuries were from heroic acts of strength to help free people pinned under rubble. His rib fracture is likely what killed him, though. When he started exerting himself to help others, the rib punctured his lung. It took him 10 days to bleed out, forgotten and presumed homeless. Murphy is lain to rest at Arlington National Cemetery with a full military burial.
- All of the forensic IDs were alright... in that each intern offered at most three pieces of evidence that might be used to ID someone from skeletal remains. Hardly conclusive, but if we assume they did additional work we didn't see, it all sounded entirely reasonable.
- I was peeved that the interns didn't look for cause or manner of death in the cold cases, though. There were no notes as to what may have killed those individuals.
- Clark's ID included a mention of "high strontium" which doesn't make much sense. Isotope ratio? Concentration? Trace element? All could tell you something about the deceased, but they'd tell you different things.
- They always put the fibulae medial to the tibiae when laying out a skeleton (see picture above). I just don't get why.
- So Daisy isn't an intern anymore? Man, that must have been a really rough break-up, that she lost her job too.
- Where people were on 9/11 - Saroyan was a coroner in NY and posted at least 900 people. Fisher was breaking into his history teacher's desk to steal a test he hadn't studied for. Clark was at a coffee shop before grad school. Abernathy had just been stabbed with scissors by his stepfather. Vaziri was at morning prayers. Bray was with his aunt, as his uncle was a firefighter in NY and died that day. Brennan was part of DMORT and helped recover remains from the Pentagon. No indication as to what Booth was doing on that day. (For my part, Clark's story mirrored mine... I was getting coffee on campus at ECU and thought the TV showing planes ramming the WTC was some kind of joke, then wondered how a plane could go off course so badly that it hit a building, then realized the magnitude of the situation and listened to NPR for the rest of the day.)
- "Idle talk is like a mama bear whose cubs have long gone in search of a teat." - Abernathy
- "I plan to offer numerous 'attaboys' while administering pats on their hindquarters." - Brennan (and she did)
- "I'm a special agent. I beat up bad guys and leap over things." - A very self-aware Booth
Forensic Mystery - A-. Pretty good misdirection about the skeletal injuries, which really did make it seem like Murphy had been killed by someone else.
Forensic Solution - A-. The vast majority of the forensics on the show tonight were pretty spot-on. Would have liked a confirmation of the deceased's ID with dental records or something, though, and some causes/manners of death for the cold cases.
Drama - B. I very much liked Vaziri in this episode, and especially his dressing-down of perpetually clueless Abernathy, my least favorite intern. But the writers' continued attempts to "humanize" Brennan fell very flat tonight. All it takes is the love of a good man to become a real person, amIright ladies?